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January 06, 2008

Waikiki Report

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

There seems be some kind of expectation that I post a photo report upon my return from a trip. I was in Honolulu for a week centered on New Year's Day. Even though the Waikiki section of Honolulu is probably one of the most photographed spots on Earth, I'll serve up the following images for your amusement.


This was taken on Kuhio Beach, the main public beach at Waikiki. The weather was mixed the entire time we were in Hawaii; instead of sunshine and humid heat, we experienced showers nearly every day. Note that the beach area is in sunshine while the sky is mostly purple cloud with rain falling in the distance.

Also seen along the beach were plenty of tattoos. I wasn't packing my camera the day I spied a man whose face was mostly covered by a greenish-blue tattoo.

Looking northwest along Kuhio Beach. The low, pink building is the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Not seen are the high-rise hotels and condos across Kalakaua Avenue, which defines the landward side of the beach park.

A closer view of the Royal Hawaiian. It's one of our favorite hotels on Waikiki. We don't want to spend the money to stay there, but do shop, drink, eat and admire the architecture and decoration. When I first visited Honolulu (1963) the Royal still stood out -- high-rise buildings in the neighborhood were rare. Nowadays, much of Honolulu near the shore from the harbor to the zoo in Waikiki is dominated by tall buildings.

Waikiki and Honolulu's Ala Moana shopping mall crawl with fancy stores such as Hermès, Gucci, Prada and, as shown here, Louis Vuiton. The Vuiton building dates back to pre-war days when it housed a Gumps (from San Francisco) store. Although some modernization was done, much of the original character remains.

Not all Waikiki shopping is upscale. A few blocks from Louis Vuiton lies the International Marketplace, a warren of shopping stalls where one can buy trinkets, aloha shirts and other tourist-oriented goodies.

When I first visited Waikiki, most of the buildings were small, wooden structures such as the one shown here to the left. This house lies between Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues near the heart of the hotel / condo high-rise area. It's probably one of the last remaining houses in the neighborhood; even "low-rise" areas nearby are comprised of apartment buildings two or more stories tall.



posted by Donald at January 6, 2008


Boy, this is real "Gidget Goes to Hawaii" stuff. Everybody always says you don't want the "main island", you only want to go to Maui if you go, but this looks pretty good!! Love the Royal Hawaiin pink hotel. I think I always love pink hotels.

Posted by: annette on January 7, 2008 10:41 AM

The weather is still pretty iffy right now, but just some short comments.

I've seen that tattoo face guy before. The most impressive one though, is this guy who's done his body and face in traditional Polynesian tattoos. Considering that's done by fishbone and hammer, he gets mad props from me.

If you look at the background of the Royal Hawaiian you can see the new state bird peeking out. The new high rises going up around downtown and Kakaako make the old hotel high rises seem elegant and subdued. You'd be hard pressed to find worse examples of pomo architecture of the "we make buildings look like glass sex toys" variety.

There's still plenty of small houses from the 1930s and 40s around, most of them are close to the Ala Wai and well hidden.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on January 7, 2008 3:07 PM

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